Posts Tagged “jobs for older workers”

One-third of Australian pensioners live in poverty, according to a report by the OECD, Photo: Greg Newington

More than one-third of Australian pensioners are living below the poverty line, making the country among the worst performers in the world for the financial security of older people.

The findings of the OECD report, Pensions at a Glance 2015, compared Australia to 33 other countries.

Australia was ranked second lowest on social equity, with 36 per cent of pensioners living below the poverty line, which the report defined as half the relevant country’s median household income.

Australian pensioners fared better than their counterparts in South Korea, where 50 per cent live below the poverty line but performed poorly against the OECD average of 12.6 per cent.

The report, released last month, found the Australian government contributes less to old-age benefits than other OECD countries. The Australian government spends 3.5 per cent of GDP on the pension, below the OECD average of 7.9 per cent.

The findings are backed up by the Global Age Watch Index 2015 report card which rates countries by how well their older populations are faring.

It ranked Australia lowest in its region on income security, due to the high rate of old age poverty and pension coverage which is below the regional average.

Paul Versteege​, senior research and advocacy adviser with the Combined Pensioner and Superannuants Association, said the base Australian pension rate was low compared to median household incomes.

“There are huge discrepancies among retirees in various countries,” he said.

“In Australia there is quite a large group that has to subsist on the age pension as its only source of income. In spite of pension reform and recent increases to the pension, the base pension is still quite low for singles.”

The annual payment for a single person is about $22,000 and $34,000 for a couple, with 2.25 million Australians claiming the pension.

Council on the Ageing chief executive Ian Yates said the report challenged perceptions that the entitlement was too high.

“Claims that the age pension is somehow too extravagant and unsustainable do not bear out,” he said.

“We have always argued for progressive improvements to the pension but at the moment an increase to the pension is highly unlikely and more focus ought to go towards building superannuation contributions.”

Chief executive of Vision Super Stephen Rowe said he was “staggered” by the findings of the OECD report, saying it painted a bleak picture for many older Australians.

“Are we generous enough with the pension? I don’t think so.”

He said that Australians retiring now have not received the full benefit of compulsory superannuation contributions, introduced in 1992, but were grappling with rising living costs.

“The basic cost of living in Australia is quite high, compared with  some other OECD countries,” Mr Rowe said.

Chief executive of National Seniors Michael O’Neill said the pension had gone backwards in real terms and many older people had not accumulated enough superannuation to supplement the benefit.

“In terms of sustainability, the report confirms that Australia spends substantially less than the OECD average on pensions,” he said.

“In fact, our pension spend has dropped and plateaued since 2000. Against other countries, our proportion of pensioners living below the poverty line is startling.”

Source: TheAge

The closer we get to taxing superannuation properly the more we are going to hear about how important it is and how much we are going need to live on in retirement. Don’t believe it. It’s almost all propaganda, almost all paid for with money taken out of our superannuation accounts.

The latest scary figure, produced by the Association of Superannuation Funds, is $58,784 per year. That’s how much it says a 65-year-old couple needs to live on in order to enjoy a “comfortable” retirement.

At the risk of stating the obvious, after tax and rent or mortgage payments most working Australians couldn’t afford such comfort.

It’s absurdly high. The fine print shows such a couple would spend $40 a week on alcohol, $80 a week on dining out, almost $200 a week on food and groceries, $136 a month on the phone and internet, $4000 a year on holidays within Australia, and $14,000 every five years on a holiday abroad.

The Association of Superannuation Funds estimate of how much a 65-year-old couple need to live is absurdly high. Illustration: John ShakespeareThe Association of Superannuation Funds estimate of how much a 65-year-old couple need to live is absurdly high. Illustration: John Shakespeare Photo: Illo:Shakespeare

Plus this: the best part of $250 a month on new clothes and shoes, $80 a month on hairdressing, $54 a month on pest control and/or an alarm service, and $350 a month on private health insurance.

At the risk of stating the obvious, after tax and rent or mortgage payments most working Australians couldn’t afford such comfort. How did such a figure come to be defined as the gold standard used to justify steady increases in compulsory super contributions and to attack plans to tax them properly?

Part of the answer is that the super industry really doesn’t care about the living standards of Australians who are working or about the extra tax they have to pay because super funds aren’t. Its chief concern is the $2 trillion in funds it has amassed to date, and the tens of billions of dollars of it that stick to its fingers each year in management fees.

Its so-called “comfortable” retirement standard was originally called “comfortably affluent but sustainable”. That’s right, the word “affluent” got edited out along the way. The University of NSW team that built it never intended it to apply to the bulk of retirees. For them they created a second standard, “one which affords full opportunity to participate in contemporary Australian society and the basic options it offers”. They labelled it “modest but adequate“.

The word “adequate” has also disappeared along the way, leaving the false impression that what’s affluent is normal and that anything else isn’t adequate.

It’s needlessly scaring us. A new survey by State Street Global Advisors finds that before retirement most Australians believe they won’t have enough to live on, but that after retirement most are happy: two-thirds say their standard of living is no worse and a significant minority say it is better.

The truth is that living costs plummet on retirement. Most retirees no longer face a mortgage, a saving of 30 per cent. Most no longer pay tax, no longer have children living at home, and no longer habitually save up to 10 per cent of each pay packet. They also no longer incur the substantial costs of heading out of home and going to work: petrol, parking, work clothes and the temptations of the office cafeteria. And they have more time to shop and cook, meaning they get better value and pay less for food. So comfortable are retirees spending far less than the industry says they need to, that most actually save.

In his earlier incarnation as social services minister Scott Morrison revealed that in their first five years in retirement 57 per cent of pensioners either build up their savings or keep them steady.

In their last five years 67 per cent do so. A Productivity Commission survey released last week finds that only 5 per cent of retirees stop saving when their income drops on retirement. But outrageously inflating the cost of living for retirees is only the first of the industry’s tricks. The second is to imply that all of it has to come from super.

The astonishing truth, outlined by Morrison in a speech as Treasurer last month, is that super accounts for only 15 per cent of the assets of Australians over the age of 65, and only 20 per cent of their income.

As the Grattan Institute put it in a recent report: superannuation is the least important part of the retirement incomes system. Retirees have much more invested in real estate than super, and “at all ages, incomes and wealth” more invested in other financial instruments than in superannuation.

“It is unreasonable to expect superannuation savings alone to fund a comfortable living standard in retirement,” the institute says. It follows that it is unreasonable to believe that the super system needs to grow or stay as it is in order to provide decent retirements. Labor is blind to evidence when it comes to superannuation.

In thrall to the legend of Paul Keating and the myths propagated by the industry he helped create, it wants to lift compulsory contributions from 9.5 per cent of salaries to 12 per cent. Morrison is more clear-eyed.

Some retirees are genuinely poor. They are the ones paying rent. The Productivity Commission says they typically have to dole out $240 a week and are vulnerable to eviction. Shamefully, when Kevin Rudd lifted the age pension in 2009 he all but ignored the finding from his pension review that rent assistance was far too low. It remains unindexed at $120 a fortnight.

There may well be other Australians for whom retirement is uncomfortable, notwithstanding the pension of $20,498 for singles and $30,903 for couples. But for most it’s OK, no worse than working. There’s no need to hand a $2 trillion industry tax concessions in order to help them.

Peter Martin is economics editor of The Age.


Association of Superannuation Funds boss Pauline Vamos wants at least a three-year lead time for major changes to super or pension policies.

Association of Superannuation Funds boss Pauline Vamos wants at least a three-year lead time for major changes to super or pension policies. Photo: Jeremy Veitch

Treasurer Scott Morrison has put ordinary Australian workers on notice that they should no longer expect to receive an age pension from the government when they retire.

Meanwhile, the very wealthy have been warned generous superannuation tax breaks are set to be reined in.

In a wide-ranging speech on Friday, Mr Morrison outlined the government’s vision for an overhaul of the country’s retirement income system designed to ease pressure on future federal budgets: by both reducing expenditure on welfare payments, and limiting the amount of revenue forgone through tax concessions.

The government plans to consult more widely on possible changes next year.The government plans to consult more widely on possible changes next year. Photo: Virginia Star

The Treasurer said government would act next year to alter the Superannuation Act to clarify that the purpose of the country’s compulsory savings system was to enable most Australians to enjoy the “worthy prize” of an “independent retirement”.

“Becoming a self-funded retiree, I think, is one of the most important objectives of any Australian … it means you have choices and control over your life and your care,” Mr Morrison said.

Currently most people can expect to receive at least a part age pension payment from the government when they retire, with their super savings providing a top-up.

Treasurer Scott Morrison outlined the government's vision for an overhaul of the country's retirement income system.Treasurer Scott Morrison outlined the government’s vision for an overhaul of the country’s retirement income system. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

But the age pension should not be regarded as an entitlement for all, but rather a “welfare payment for those who do not have the ability to save enough to fund their own retirement”, Mr Morrison said.

More than twenty years since compulsory superannuation was introduced the system is not yet efficient enough at meeting its objective to “supplement or replace” the age pension, he said.

Mr Morrison said the age pension should remain “as a safety net”, and that people who take time out of the workforce to raise children or perform carers duties should not be left behind.

Opposition spokesman for financial services and superannuation Jim Chalmers wants a low income superannuation contribution retained.Opposition spokesman for financial services and superannuation Jim Chalmers wants a low income superannuation contribution retained. Photo: Glenn Hunt

Enshrining a definition of the purpose of superannuation in law, to better focus future policy changes,was a key recommendation of last year’s financial system inquiry led by former Commonwealth Bank boss David Murray.

The inquiry found that 10 per cent of Australians receive 38 per cent of super tax concessions, more than the combined benefit to the bottom 70 per cent of Australians.

Crackdown on super tax cuts for richest

Mr Morrison also said on Friday that the richest Australians will have to help pay for a better superannuation system as he flagged the government will limit tax breaks on very high balances.

“Super was never designed to be an open-ended vehicle for wealth creation.”

He floated the idea of placing a limit on how much money people can put into super at the discounted tax rate of 15 per cent.

Mr Morrison also pointed to Mercer research that suggests the super tax concessions should designed to enable an income in retirement of 70 per cent of pre-retirement earnings. Opening the door to limiting tax concessions on super has drawn criticism from lobby groups for self-funded retirees.

The move represents a major u-turn, under Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, on a core policy promise made by his predecessor Tony Abbott and his cabinet.

Mr Abbott, his former treasurer Joe Hockey, and former assistant treasurer Josh Frydenberg all repeatedly pledged earlier this year “no unexpected or adverse changes to super taxes”.

Mr Morrison downplayed the backflip.

Perception of fairness politically important

“A number of the changes [to super laws] that occurred under the last [Labor] government were egregious, and undermined stability and certainty in the system, and that is why we, in this term of government, have been so hesitant about making any changes in this term,” he said.

Mr Morrison said retirees, and older workers approaching retirement, deserved stability and certainty.

“And yet we must also balance that right with the goal of shaping the superannuation system so it provides opportunity for more Australians, because until tax concessions in the super system are perceived to strike the right balance of fairness there will continue to be calls for more tinkering and changes”.

The Treasurer made the comments during a speech to the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) conference in Brisbane on Friday.

ASFA chief executive Pauline Vamos said she supported the idea of restraining access to super tax concessions for the most wealthy and developing policies to encourage more people to save towards a self-funded retirement.

“At the one end of the spectrum super should not be treated as a wealth creation and estate planning vehicle, while at the other we must have a social safety net for the most vulnerable”.

Ms Vamos said the government should provide at least three years notice of any future changes to the rules to allow people time to plan, and that special allowances may need to be made for those already in or closely approaching retirement.

ASFA has called for a lifetime cap of $2.5 million on the amount of money people can accumulate through super.

“While limiting the tax concessions on those very high super balances would only affect about 70,000 people today and not ring in a huge amount of revenue for the government in the short term it would set us up for a fairer and more sustainable system over the next 20 to 40 years,” Ms Vamos said.

Criticism from Labor

Other groups have called for much lower caps.

The Grattan Institute this week proposed limiting pre-tax annual contributions to superannuation accounts at $11,000 per person and taxing investment earnings in retirement, drawing the ire of the self-managed super industry.

Earlier this month Deloitte called for the government to scrap annual limits on how much money workers can tip into their super at the reduced tax rate of 15 per cent in favour of a lifetime concessional contributions cap of $580,000.

On Friday Mr Morrison said there “needs to be more flexibility” in the rules to allow people, especially women, with broken work patterns to catch up – indicating the government is open to scrapping annual caps on contributions.

The government plans to consult more widely on possible changes next year.

Opposition spokesman for Financial Services and Superannuation Jim Chalmers accused the government of peddling a rhetoric of wanting to improve retirement outcomes for ordinary workers, while simultaneously pushing ahead with previously-announced policies that would make leave them worse off.

“While it was good to hear Mr Morrison talking about improving the adequacy of superannuation system, all he offered were thought bubbles,” Mr Chalmers said.

“Meanwhile the government is pushing ahead with plans to abolish the low income contribution scheme by 2017, it is stalling on raising the super guarantee, and has laws before the parliament to weaken penalties for employers who do not comply with their obligations to pay workers’ super.”

Labor’s plan is to introduce a 15 per cent tax on earnings from super in retirement, which are currently tax-exempt, once a person has drawn more than $75,000 a year.

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald

Date:  November 23, 2015 
Sham contracting is a big issue in the cleaning industry.

Sham contracting is a big issue in the cleaning industry.

There are many ways in which big  businesses try to get an unfair advantage over small businesses and also their own employees. A common practice for many years has been to rechristen employees and class them as contractors.

An industry that would appear to be overrepresented  in forcing employees to become contractors is the cleaning industry. In some cases extremely large businesses try to hide behind supposed business arrangements with contracting companies.

Myer has been accused of aiding and abetting contracting companies maximising their profits to the detriment of employees classed as contractors.

In July 2015 The Age revealed cleaners at Myer department stores working for a cleaning services company called A&K Saana Services were being paid a flat hourly rate and not in accordance with the relevant award. An investigation undertaken by the Fair Work Ombudsman found that nine cleaning staff had been underpaid by $6300 in a month.

A Myer spokesman at the time had said, “the company took its duties as a responsible Australian employer seriously”, this comment has to be called into question as a result of a new case involving Myer.

The 7.30 Report reported on November 18 Myer was using another contract cleaning business, Spotless, where cleaners were classed as contractors, made to get their own ABN, were paid below the award rate and had to look after their own tax, superannuation, and insurance obligations.

Q. I work for a cleaning company using my own ABN. I have been advised by the company that I must get registered for GST and I will have to pay the 10 per cent GST out of my own earnings. As my annual income is only about $35,000 why should I have to get registered for GST?

A. You do not have to get registered for GST from an income tax point of view. It would appear that the cleaning company you are working for have turned the practice of making employees work as sham contractors into an art form.

On the Fair Work Ombudsman’s website, the differences between contractors and employees are clearly spelled out. The factors that determine whether someone is an employee are shown as:

  • have their work directed and controlled by their employer
  • work set or standard hours (casual employees hours can vary from week to week)
  • usually have an ongoing expectation of work
  • bear no financial risk – it’s covered by their employer’s insurance
  • are provided by their employer with tools or a tool allowance is provided
  • have income tax deducted by their employer
  • are paid wages or a salary regularly
  • are entitled to paid leave.

Alternatively independent contractors are shown as having the following factors:

  • have a high level of control over how the work is done, including the choice to hire others to assist
  • agree to the hours required to complete the job
  • usually engaged for a specific task or time
  • bear the risk of making a profit or a loss and usually bears responsibility and liability for poor work or injury and usually have their own insurance
  • use their own tools and equipment
  • pay their own tax and GST
  • have an ABN and submits invoices
  • don’t receive paid leave.

The tests applied by the ATO to decide whether someone is running a business, or is really an employee, are similar to those used by the Fair Work Ombudsman. What the cleaning company is asking you to do would appear to breach not only employment laws but also income tax and compulsory superannuation guarantee contribution regulations.

On the Fair Work Ombudsman’s website where the differences between employees and contractors are listed, see the link above, there is another link that allows employees wrongly classed as contractors to try and resolve the workplace issue of them being incorrectly classed as a contractor.

Source:  The Brisbane Times

A national inquiry has heard that society’s obsession with youth and looks is driving down the age when bosses consider employees to be past their use-by date.

Official complaints to federal and state advocates about age discrimination start well before retirement age, with Queenslanders complaining that they are being sacked and passed over for work from their 40th birthday.

Cases include an employee in the 45-54 age bracket who was told they were too old to use the stairs at work and fired for safety reasons.

Another was made redundant because the company needed “fresh faces”.

Age and Disability Commissioner Susan Ryan is currently touring the country as part of a Federal Government inquiry into age and disability discrimination in Australian workplaces.



Queensland Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Kevin Cocks. Picture: Bruce Long

Queensland Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Kevin Cocks. Picture: Bruce Long



She said there was an “infatuation with youth’’ and HR managers had admitted to her that they preferred younger workers. “It makes no sense but it happens,” she said.

She said 45 year olds were finding doors “shut in their face everywhere they go”.

The issue came to the fore at a recent meeting of national HR managers, who admitted hirers – often in their 30s – did have a bias against people older than themselves.

Queensland’s Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Kevin Cocks said the problem was across industries and genders, although he nominated flight attendants, the media and academia as memorable cases he had seen.

Despite previously having a successful career in consulting, Sue, 65, who is now a retail worker in Brisbane’s CBD, said she was repeatedly knocked back when she attempted to re-enter the workplace as an over 50.

“I applied for 180 jobs in a matter of weeks. I have no doubt it had to do with my age,” Sue said.


Source:  The Courier Mail

Older people learning barista skills

A national inquiry into age and disability discrimination in the workforce has heard some Tasmanian workers are being told that they are too old for jobs they are applying for.

The Australian Human Rights Commission’s Willing to Work Inquiry has heard from about 60 older workers and employers and peak interest groups in Launceston and Hobart.

It examined practices, attitudes and laws that deny or reduce older people and people with a disability access to equal employment opportunities.

Age and Disability Discrimination Commissioner Susan Ryan said urgent reform was needed.

“We hear that sometimes [older workers] are told directly by employment agencies that they’re too old for the job they’re interested in,” she said.

“In other cases they’re not told that directly but they never get feedback as to why they’re unsuccessful in applying for a job for which they’re very qualified.

“We hear that older workers are asked to put their age on applications, when they should not have to do that.

“The purpose of that is to discriminate against them, there’s no other purpose in doing that.”

Older workers ‘angry and frustrated’

She said the ramifications of age discrimination were devastating on families.

“We hear that by and large older workers feel that they don’t have a fair chance to get a job when there’s one advertised,” she said.

“Of course for a person say in their 50s who still has a lot of household expenses, mortgage, kids and so forth this is absolutely devastating.”

Sue Leitch from the Tasmanian Council on the Ageing interviewed a handful of older Tasmanians before giving evidence in Hobart.

She said they were angry and frustrated.

“There is a high level of frustration that is being felt by people that are either looking for work or are in work places where there’s not necessarily good work culture towards older people,” she said.

“What we’re finding in some of the restructures that have been going on in organisations is that people in their early 50s are being earmarked for redundancies and virtually tapped on the shoulder.”

Commissioner Ryan said Tasmania was improving and she welcomed the development of a diversity and inclusion plan for the public service.

“Which will lead to those departments and agencies putting in place strategies to give mature workers and workers with disability more opportunities,” she said.

“So I think we’re going to see some improvements here in Hobart.”

A report will be prepared for the Commonwealth Government by June next year.

Topics: discriminationcommunity-and-societyworktas

The Age older workers


A federal government program designed to get older Australians back into work has been branded a dismal failure, with only 1700 people joining the scheme meant to benefit 32,000.

Department of Employment documents reveal just 1735 people took advantage of the Restart scheme in its first year of operation – about 5 per cent of the government’s target.

Announced with much fanfare in the 2014 budget, the program provides a wage subsidy of up to $10,000 to employers who give jobs to people aged over 50 who have been unemployed for more than six months.

Labor said the program is clearly missing the mark. Advertisement “It’s the government’s program that needs a restart as it’s proving to be a dismal failure,” opposition spokesman Brendan O’Connor​ said. “No amount of rhetorical flourish from the Prime Minister can hide the real reason the program doesn’t work – there simply are not the jobs available.”

But Employment Minister Michaelia Cash said the government remains “firmly committed” to the program, which is part of a $1 billion investment to establish a single wage subsidy pool.

She said the program has now helped a total of 2500 mature-age workers, including those helped since July 1. “Restart is a demand-driven programme and the government budgeted for a maximum uptake of 32,000,” she said.

Nonetheless, Ms Cash has announced changes designed to improve uptake. The subsidy will now be paid over 12 months rather than 24 and other measures have been taken to reduce complexity and red tape.

Older workers face significant barriers to entering the workforce. On average, they spend 61 weeks on the unemployment queue, compared to 37 weeks for all other people.

“That is why Restart was developed, to give an added incentive to employers to hire a mature-age worker,” Ms Cash said. Both major parties have long struggled to encourage employers to hire mature-age Australians. Indeed, just 230 employers took advantage of a $1000 annual subsidy under the two-year life of the Rudd/Gillard government’s Experience+Jobs Bonus scheme, which was also designed to get over 50s into work. It was meant to benefit up to 10,000 employers.

Source: The Age/Adam Gartrell

A federal government plan to boost mature-age employment has fallen spectacularly short of its target.

A government plan is offering older job-seekers little assistance. Photo: Shutterstock

The Restart scheme needs to be restarted. That’s the verdict of the Department of Employment, which is set to overhaul the wage subsidy program, designed to get older Australians back to work, from November 1.

Introduced in the 2014 federal budget, the $524.8 million Restart scheme offered up to $10,000 over two years to employers willing to take on workers aged over 50.

The original target was to secure work for 32,000 mature-age jobseekers every year, but enquiries made by The New Daily to the Department of Employment reveal that the scheme found jobs for just 2318 people during its first 15 months.

The employment situation only got worse for mature-age workers after the launch of the program – in the year to January 2015, there were 80,000 unemployed Australians aged 55 and over, an increase of 12 per cent over the year before.

The Human Rights Commission’s National Prevalence Survey of Age Discrimination in the workplace found 27 per cent of Australians aged 50-plus indicated they had experienced some form of age discrimination in the workplace in the past two years.


One such mature-age worker struggling to find a gig is 61-year-old Michael Oates, who worked in work health and safety for local government in Adelaide until he lost his job three years ago.

He was told by recruiters his 40 years of experience in the area was a disadvantage not an advantage, and after applying for dozens of jobs in his field of expertise without so much as an interview, he started to believe them.

Mr Oates then started applying outside his area for any kind of work at all, and didn’t even hear back from employers advertising casual low-skill roles.

“Because you don’t hear anything, you almost give up,” he said.

“You think – what’s the point?”

Mr Oates, who currently keeps himself busy by volunteering with DOME, a mature-age recruitment service, is in a particularly competitive environment: South Australia, where unemployment is easily the highest in the nation.

The latest unemployment figures show the state’s jobless rate hovering at 7.9 per cent.

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 30: A general view of the Holden manufacturing plant at Elizabeth shows the company logo on July 30, 2013 in Adelaide, Australia. Holden, a subsidiary of American car giant General Motors recently reduced its staff in Adelaide by 400, in an effort to reduce operating costs. Holden and other local car manufacturers have received years of both federal and state government grants, and PM Kevin Rudd recently said he was "...determined to see this industry survive into the future." (Photo by Morne de Klerk/Getty Images)

South Australian Council of Social Service (SACOSS) executive director Ross Womersley told The New Daily the idea behind the government’s wage subsidy program seemed good, but he is concerned at how it has worked in practice.

“It is incredibly regrettable,” he said.

“On the back of the performance so far, I’d be tempted to call for a review [of Restart], some development of insight as to why it isn’t attracting the interest that it should.

“Is it simply employers don’t know about scheme, or that employers don’t rate it?

“Or is there something in the mechanisms of administration that make it difficult and cumbersome to deal with?”

He said wage subsidies gave mature-age workers a chance to prove themselves, but expressed concern that workers might be pushed out of their existing jobs if the money stopped coming in.

What’s on offer?

The Restart program was originally due to be reassessed in June 2016, but under former employment minister Eric Abetz it was announced in the 2015/16 budget that changes would be brought in well ahead of that date, aiming to increase take-up and reduce complexity for employers.


From this coming Sunday, employers will be able to access the subsidy of $10,000 over 12 months instead of two years.

Rather than waiting out a qualifying period, employers will be able to start receiving the subsidy from the moment the mature-age worker starts work, receiving up to $6500 over a 12-month period and a bonus of up to $3500 for employment which lasts the full 12 months.

There are also special provisions to be introduced for employers taking on 10 or more mature-aged workers to co-ordinate payment times with the costs of group training and induction programs.

The half-a-billion dollars in funding for the Restart scheme has been moved into a single wage subsidy pool of $1.2 billion over four years, shared with three other employment incentive schemes.

System vulnerable to exploitation

When the revamp was first announced COTA (formerly Council on the Ageing) chief executive Ian Yates expressed concern that the pooling of wage subsidiary budgets could see the money allocated for mature-age workers spent elsewhere.


He slammed the lack of other measures to address age discrimination, as well as the requirement that the funding only apply to mature-age workers who have been out of a job for at least six months, and the shortening of time over which employers could receive the full wage subsidy.

“We are concerned that this could lead to some employers churning older employees on short contracts so employers benefit from the incentive but the workers become unemployed again,” he said.

The wage subsidy program is not the only action being taken on mature-age workers, with the Attorney-General having ordered a national inquiry into discrimination against older and disabled workers.

The inquiry is currently undertaking a series of consultations and roundtables around Australia, with the next stop in unemployment hotspot Adelaide on November 2.

Source:  The New Daily


The most recent ABS employment statistics confirm the employment rate has remained stable at 6.2 percent for the third consecutive month, a reasonably good trend for Australia as a whole.

But this does not reveal the key employment issues affecting older workers. The only element of the data which can provide a glimpse into older people’s working or non-working lives is the decrease in the level of men and women in full-time employment, which can partly be attributed to the increasing number of people retiring accompanied with falling numbers of young people entering the workforce.

This is only one side of the story, though, and merely scratches the surface of the challenges that mature-age job seekers face. Two of those challenges are age discrimination in the recruitment process and intergenerational competition from younger colleagues for positions or promotions.

For example, ABS data from last quarter shows an increase in underemployment in both men and women aged over 55 who did not have as many working hours as they would like, which potentially results in not being able to make as an effective impact in their workplace as they wish.

Other hidden issues facing older workers include the limited training and promotional opportunities available to them, which can result in a lack of career progression, cuts to the number of work hours against employee’s wishes, inflexible working conditions, and less opportunity to take on responsibility within the workplace.

All this can lead to older people ‘self-selecting’ out of the labour market — a situation that is economically unsustainable, particularly given the government push for prolonging working lives.

This situation has occurred because employers, recruiters and wider society are largely unaware of, or choose to ignore, the numerous benefits that a healthy and productive older workforce can bring to a business, such as experience, knowledge, skills and mentoring abilities.

The effect of mature-age unemployment and underemployment has multiple and complex far reaching implications on several areas, including an individual’s finances, physical and mental health and general wellbeing.

Yet, mature age labour force participation is just the tip of the iceberg.

As a society we do not yet fully understand, let alone are prepared to deal with, the impending issues facing ageing populations. For example, how will our health system respond? What effect will it have on the economy? What are the entrepreneurial and commercial opportunities? What innovative responses will dominate? The consideration of just one issue in isolation, such as employment, is therefore futile.

Crucial to responding to the complex issues of ageing populations, including foreseeable workforce challenges and opportunities, will be an interdisciplinary approach to ageing. We need to consider local and global topics, encourage innovation and foster strong leadership in this area. But, most importantly, we need to fill the leadership gaps that exist and create champions in an interdisciplinary, intergenerational and international approach to ageing.

Through university programs and research collaborations, policy makers, business professionals and other university graduates are well placed to become the leaders we need in the rapidly expanding ageing sector.
They are the ones who can shift the focus of ageing, remove barriers for older people and place living a healthy and productive life as a vital policy priority.

This must be accompanied with a seismic shift in thinking from that of the current narrative of impending chaos and doom, to one of growth, innovation and opportunity.

Fostering interdisciplinary research and cultivating qualified professionals with a holistic overview will be the positive and productive way forward to achieving that.

Source:  The Huffington Post – Author   

Lecturer in the Academic of the Ageing in Society program at the University of Melbourne


Businesses benefit from hiring mature-age staff.

Businesses benefit from hiring mature-age staff.

BABY Boomers have been the backbone of Australia’s workforce for many years.

The boomer generation, which numbers more than 5.5 million, has helped build the country’s economy and shape its society.

And, over the next decade or two, they’ll change that working landscape yet again as they retire from paid employment.

This exodus will have an impact across Australia, including in the Geelong region. Mature-age workers bring valuable expertise, knowledge and life experience to Geelong’s varied businesses and organisations.

They add diversity, productivity and stability and play a crucial role in mentoring our next wave of workers and leaders.

And many of them are not ready to go. They’re reluctant to down tools, pack away the briefcase and leave their jobs — for financial reasons, personal choice and a strong sense of purpose.

Australian Bureau of Statistics labour force data reveals a significant increase in employment numbers over the past five years for older workers in the Geelong region, which includes the City of Greater Geelong, Surf Coast Shire, Borough of Queenscliffe and most of Golden Plains Shire.

In mid-2010 there were about 17,300 people aged 55 years and over in part and full-time employment.

Flip the calendar to mid-2015, and that figure has jumped by 6900 to about 24,200.

That’s good news for Geelong’s employers. Businesses can and do benefit greatly from productive mature-age workers but they’ll need to take a flexible approach to keep that valuable intellectual capital within their ranks as retirement beckons.

Options of part-time work and flexible hours make paid employment more attractive to mature-age people looking to balance a job with lifestyle changes as they transition towards retirement.

And it might be enough to keep this valuable human resource within Geelong’s workforce for longer.

But it’s not just skills and knowledge that slip away as mature-age workers retire.

Workplace participation rates across Australia will be impacted too, with governments’ strongly encouraging older people to remain in employment longer to stave off a forecast shrinking pool of workers in coming decades and help counteract the economic ramifications of an ageing population.

While the catchcry of “youth are our future” is true, we ignore the mature-age worker at our peril. They’re important now and will remain so in the future.

— Rob Birch is chief executive officer of Gforce Employment Solutions, which supplies employment services to Geelong, Ballarat and Wyndham regions.


Source:  Geelong Advertiser